Gambling involves betting something of value on an event whose outcome is determined by chance, for example by buying lottery tickets or using a slot machine. If you predict the outcome correctly, you win money. If you lose, you forfeit what you bet. People gamble for many different reasons: for social, financial or entertainment reasons. They also do it to relieve boredom or unpleasant emotions, like stress, anxiety or depression. However, there are healthier and more effective ways to do this, such as exercising, spending time with friends who don’t gamble or practicing relaxation techniques.
Problem gambling has traditionally been classified as an impulse control disorder, but it has recently been re-aligned with substance use disorders (Potenza, 2006). The decision reflects new understandings of the biological underpinnings of addiction, and evidence of similarities between pathological gambling and other addictive behaviours such as compulsive stealing and trichotillomania (compulsive hair-pulling).
Psychiatrists have developed a number of tools to help people with problematic gambling. These include behavioural therapy, which is aimed at changing unhealthy gambling behaviours, and psychodynamic therapy, which is based on the idea that unconscious processes influence our behavior.
One of the most important things that people can do to stop gambling is to set a budget. This will allow them to have a set amount of disposable income for gambling and it means that when this is gone, they have to stop. People can also try to improve their focus by taking regular breaks and avoiding gambling when they are tired or bored. They can also try to avoid casinos, as these are often free of clocks and windows and it is easy to get distracted.